Wedding banquet etiquette

Skipping forward to the United States in 1920’s, (pre-Great Depression one assumes) a delightful slice of social history can be found in ‘etiquette’ by Emily Post who tells us, ‘the general sit-down breakfast—except in great houses like a few of those in Newport (R.I.) —is always furnished by a caterer, who brings all the food, tables, chairs, napery, china and glass, as well as the necessary waiters. The butler and footmen belonging in the house may assist or oversee, or detail themselves to other duties.’

Working on the assumption you won’t be relying on your butler and footmen (!) the principles the delightful Emily Post describes with regards to caterers hold true. They should furnish you with everything you need, in fact, should take care of your every food and drink desire. Whether they are in-house and part of the venue you choose or you find your own, any caterer worth their salt will employ their experience to help and guide you towards a hassle-free, perfectly-planned wedding breakfast along with reception canapésevening buffets and drinks throughout depending upon your plans.

Communicating with your catering team

Whether you are choosing from one or multiple caterers, always keep in mind you are arranging banqueting for all of your guests, and serving a room of often upwards of 100 people in a very short space of time comes with its own unique set of obstacles so heed the caterer’s advice; they should know how to make it happen and when arranging a tasting with them, make it as much about what they offer you rather than what you want to taste. What they offer will be an excellent indication of what they do well and the quality of their offering will assist you in understanding how and at what level they are comfortable operating at.

Once satisfied that your caterer will, literally, cater to your every food and drink requirement, think about tasty crowd-pleasers and inject a little sophistication. A three or four course ‘sit-down’ wedding breakfast followed by coffee and petit fours still reigns supreme and for good reason. Serving a starter, main course and dessert ensures all of your guests dine well and offers the opportunity for deeper conversation meaning far more of your guests know each other when it comes to the party later. An amuse-bouche, intermediate sorbet course, or pre-dessert presents an opportunity to add extra finesse and make the wedding breakfast that little bit more memorable.

Setting the wedding reception table

Thoughtful presentation on elegant crockery in combination with fresh ingredients honestly cooked and served are a delight in their own right so don’t shy away from the classics and keep that need to feed the whole room in mind. The right approach will then allow you far more freedom and you can entertain a whole world of flavours – which is what, when all is said and done, it’s all about – including your very own favourites, fitting for your very own wedding breakfast on your very own special day. Whatever style or theme of setting you choose, be sure to discuss it with your wedding venue first. You may be able to hire accessories from the venue if they don’t already provide it. Alternatively, there are plenty of suppliers that should be more than willing to offer their services to you. Consider hiring table cloths, crockery, napkins, cutlery and charger plates.

Natalie Stevenson Wedding Breakfast

Wedding banqueting: Good to know

  • Plates are generally served from the left and cleared from the right.
  • Bread plates are located on the left.
  • A white wine glass is smaller than a red wine glass.
  • The same menu is normally served to every guest unless dietary requirements have been previously discussed.
  • Still and/or sparkling water bottles are normally placed on each table for guests to serve themselves throughout the meal.